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2 Jun 2008 : Column 578Wcontinued
James Brokenshire: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether any officials in (a) his Department and (b) its agencies were disciplined or dismissed for (i) breaches of data protection requirements and (ii) inappropriate use of personal or sensitive data in each of the last three years for which figures are available. 
Mr. Timms: Information on numbers of staff disciplined or dismissed for (i) breaches of data protection requirements and (ii) inappropriate use of personal or sensitive data is not available in the format requested.
The Department introduced a new personnel computer system incrementally from November 2006, being fully implemented by April 2007.
Since April 2007 disciplinary action for breaches of data protection requirements, and inappropriate use of personal or sensitive data, has been recorded under a general heading of disclosure of information. To extract more detailed information from individual records under this category would be at disproportionate cost.
The number of staff recorded as disciplined for disclosure of information is given in the following table. There are currently no records held on the system for dismissals on grounds of disclosure of information.
|Disciplinary category Disclosure of Information April 2007 to Mar 2008by agency|
Anne Moffat: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps he is taking to support lone parents in seeking work. 
Mr. Timms: Lone parents already have access to a comprehensive package of measures via new deal for lone parents or new deal plus for lone parents pilots to encourage them to improve their employment opportunities and gain independence through working.
We recently announced additional support from April 2008 to help more lone parents make the transition into employment including the national roll out of in work credit, an in work discretion fund, in work advisory support and work focused pre-employment training.
Annette Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what role the Equality and Human Rights Commission has to deal with inquiries from the public purse about disability matters; how much funding it has to deal with such inquiries in 2007-08; and if he will make a statement. 
Barbara Follett [holding answer 6 February 2008]: The Equality and Human Rights Commission (the Commission) runs a helpline for members of the public which includes disability inquiries. The amount allocated to this service for members of the public with disability inquiries for the six months from 1 October 2007 to 31 March 2008 is approximately £0.5 million.
The Commission has a specific power under section 16 of the Equality Act 2006 to initiate inquiries into disability and other equality, discrimination and human rights issues. The Commission is currently considering a number of proposals for inquiries. The provisions in the Equality Act 2006 require the Commission to consult those affected, on the inquiry's proposed terms of reference in advance of these being made public. The Commission has an overall budget for the six months from 1 October 2007 until 31 March 2008 of £30 million. Within this budget there is scope for the Commission to use all of its powers including inquiries and formal investigations.
Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what target his Department has set on increasing take-up of each income-related benefit in each of the next three years; and if he will make a statement; 
(2) what estimate his Department has made of the likely trend in the take-up rate of (a) pension credit, (b) council tax benefit, (c) disability living allowance, (d) attendance allowance, (e) income support, (f) housing benefit and (g) jobseekers allowance over the next three years. 
Mr. Plaskitt: The only income-related benefit for which the Department has an explicit take-up target for 2008-09 is pension credit. As published in a written ministerial statement on 27 March 2008, Official Report, columns 20-22WS, the take-up target for 2008-09 is to deliver an annualised value of new successful pension credit applications of £767 million and to secure at least 250,000 successful new pension credit applications. The target for later years will be set in due course.
Housing benefit and council tax benefit are administered by local authorities, and estimates of take-up at local authority level are not available. There are no take-up targets for the other income related benefits because these are out of work benefits and the Governments policy is that, wherever possible, people should be in work.
For planning purposes, for pension credit, council tax benefit, income support, housing benefit and jobseekers allowance we assume that the proportion entitled who will receive benefit remains broadly constant; for pension credit this is consistent with the 2008-09 targets. Estimates of take-up are not known for disability living allowance or attendance allowance.
Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the number of members of defined-benefit occupational pension schemes that (a) have wound up and (b) have been in the process of winding up since 1997. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien: The following information was provided by the pensions regulator:
(a) Records show that 7659 defined benefit occupational schemes have a 'wound up' status with an effective date of 2 April 1997 or later.
(b) Records show that 1012 defined benefit schemes have a 'winding up' status with an effective date of 2 April 1997 or later.
1. A wound up scheme is one which has notified the pensions regulator that it has completed winding up procedures.
2. A winding up scheme is one which has notified the pensions regulator that it has commenced winding up procedures.
3. The data supplied by the pensions regulator is current as at 30 April 2008.
4. Total membership includes active, deferred and pensioner members.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the average time taken to process (a) a successful and (b) an unsuccessful pension credit application was in the last period for which figures are available, broken down by Pension Service office. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien: The information is not available in the format requested. Such information as is available is in the following table.
|Pension credit applications March 2008|
|Pension Centre||Average actual clearance time (days)|
| Notes: 1. Separate data on average processing times for successful and unsuccessful Pension Credit applications is not available. 2. Birmingham caseload transferred to Stockport Pension Centre February 2008. 3. Only working days are counted. 4. the average Actual Clearance Time is measured from the date on which all evidence is received to enable a decision to be made. Source: Department for Work and Pensions Management Information.|
Jim Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what rules are in place relating to the treatment of inherited assets by claimants for the purposes of pension credit and income support; and whether those rules allow claimants to dispose of any of those assets to charities or others without penalty. 
Mr. Plaskitt: In all the income-related benefits, which include pension credit and income support, income and capital, including that which has been inherited are taken into account in the calculation of benefit. Rules allow the decision maker to take into account any resources that a person may have deprived themselves of in order to secure, retain or increase entitlement to an income-related benefit
If the decision maker determines that a person has deprived themselves of capital, which could include spending money on luxury items, giving money to charities, family members or others, that person will be treated as still possessing that capital when assessing entitlement to benefit.
Within pension credit, assessed income periods for those recipients aged 65 or over were introduced to reduce the level of intrusion sometimes associated with income related benefits. The assessed income period is currently a specific period up to five years, during which time the customer does not have to report any changes to their retirement provision, by which we mean income from capital, annuities and pensions. During an assessed
income period receipt of an inheritance would not generally need to be reported. When the assessed income period comes to an end, customers need to provide evidence and information on their current income and capital, in the same way that they do at the start of a claim so that their entitlement can be re-assessed before another assessed income period can be set.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans he has to increase the take-up of pension credit; how many pensioners in Stroud constituency receive pension credit; and what estimate he has made of the number of pensioners in Stroud constituency who are entitled to receive pension credit. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien: The Pension Service continues to undertake a wide range of activities to encourage people to claim the pension credit they are entitled to, including data matching to identify those who may be eligible but who are not receiving benefits, home visits for vulnerable customers and ever closer working with partner organisations, including local authorities.
Last December I announced a package of measures to further simplify the benefit system which includes enabling claims to housing benefit and council tax benefit made over the phone with pension credit, to be forwarded directly to the local authority without the need for a signature.
The Pension Service Local Service team in Gloucestershire works in a joint working partnership with Gloucestershire local authority, and works closely with a local Stroud partnership called Village Agents' which provides a holistic benefit take-up service across the Stroud area.
There are currently 3,860 pensioner households4,690 individualsreceiving pension credit in Stroud. However, estimates of eligibility are not available below the level of Great Britain. It is therefore not possible to say how many pensioners are eligible to receive Pension Credit in Stroud constituency.
1. The figures provided are early estimates. The preferred data source for figures supplied by DWP is the Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study (WPLS). However, the figure provided is the latest available figure, which is taken from the QMS scan at 28 February 2008. These are adjusted using the historical relationship between WPLS and QMS data to give an estimate of the final WPLS figure.
2. Caseloads are rounded to the nearest 10.
3. Households are those people who claim pension credit either for themselves only or on behalf of a household.
Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his policy is on the provision of state pension forecasts for individuals, with particular reference to the timing of the provision of forecasts. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien: Pension forecasts, provided by The Pension, Disability and Carers Service are available as follows:
On request, either provided in writing or via the web-service. On receipt of a request from a customer by telephone or letter, The Pension, Disability and Carers Service will usually send a written State Pension Forecast within 10 days. The web-based service provides instant on-line pension forecasts to customers.
Combined Pension Forecasts (CPF), which contain an estimate of state pension together with an illustration of occupational or personal pension, offer a more complete picture of potential pension entitlement. They are issued as part of the participating schemes annual statement timetable.
I also refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave on 21 April 2008, Official Repor t, column 1844W, to the hon. Member for South Cambridgeshire (Mr. Lansley)
David Tredinnick: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when he plans to provide state pension forecasts for people expecting to retire after April 2010; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien [holding answer 22 May 2008]: I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave on 21 April 2008, Official Report, column 1844W, to the hon. Member for South Cambridgeshire (Mr. Lansley).
Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the number and proportion of men over state pension age who will be entitled to the full basic state pension in each year until 2050. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien [holding answer 22 May 2008]: The information requested can be found in the following table:
|Number of men entitled to full basic state pension||As a proportion of men over state pension age (percentage)|
1. Estimates are presented in millions and rounded to the nearest 100,000 or whole percentage point.
2. Estimates of state pension receipt or pension income are presented at individual level and relate to the United Kingdom.
3. Estimates refer to the number of people at or over SPA estimated to be entitled to some BSP in each year to 2050, estimates are only available for every fifth year from 2025.
4. Figures include deferrers and refer to entitlement not receipt of BSP. Some people may be entitled but not be in receipt of a pension because they have chosen to defer their entitlement.
Projections from DWP Forecasting Division using the Government Actuarys Departments Retirement Pension Model.
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